Monday, June 30, 2008

The good, the bad, and the moronic

Two books. Two sets of protagonists. Both heroes are or were law enforcement. Both heroines are being chased by hit men. Seemingly similar, right? Then how can two books be so different?

Last week I finished two books: Extreme Danger by Shannon McKenna and Hot by Julia Harper (aka. Elizabeth Hoyt.) Large defining characteristics were commonalities between the two books. The end products, though, were vastly different.

Extreme Danger
Shannon McKenna

The book starts off well enough with Becca Cantrell escaping to remote Frake's Island to avoid the press. Her fiance (now ex) was caught the night before the wedding in a compromising situation. His ex was giving him some oral pleasure while he was driving and he crashed his car into a tree. Not so smooth for a guy aiming to be a politician. Also, the teeth marks must have been pretty bad.

Becca decides she has been too staid and boring. She needs to take risks! So after downing a bottle of wine she sneaks over to the neighbors house to take a clandestine swim... in the buff. This would be fine if the house was still own by the uber rich computer geek, but it has recently been bought by an international mobster. Not so good.

Nick catches Becca swimming in the buff. Who is she? Is she an assassin? Is she a test sent by the mobster to tempt him into betraying his cover? Is she just some stupid chick who stumbled in at the worst possible time?

Thus begins Becca's involvement with (and near destruction of) Nick Ward, undercover freelance operative trying to take down the international baddie. They strike enough sparks off one another to start all of California on fire. These two have some hot, raunchy sex. Sadly, I needed more than that. As intense as the story (and their smexin) was, I did not believe in their romance. I just could not buy into their love and HEA. Becca just found out the man she loved was getting his tootsiepop licked by another woman. Her judgement is men is atrocious. Nick does not trust anyone, to the point that he betrays Becca and nearly gets her killed. Yup, that' the basis for a lasting relationship. Sorry. I just can't buy it.

Julia Harper

Where Extreme Danger was serious and intense, Hot was lighthearted and fun. Bravo to Ms. Harper/Hoyt! Turner Hastings is sassy, fun and capable. When the bank she is working at is held up at gun point by Yoda and Spongebob, she sees her chance. In the ensuing chaos, Turner steals the contents of a safe deposit box and hits the road. You see, she has a criminal to catch and the items she stole just might be the key. John MacKinnon is one of the FBI agents called in to investigate the bank robbery. From the moment he sees Turner on the surveillance tapes his attention is captured.

For the first portion of the book, the two never meet. John is chasing after Turner, trying to apprehend her for the crime. Turner is trying to find proof that her uncle was innocent of embezzlement. Remaining out of John;s reach is essential. She is damn good at this! From the get go John makes contact with Turner via her cell phone. Soon the two begin talking more frequently than is altogether necessary for the investigation. By the time John captures Turner he is on her side and ready to be inside of her. Hot damn, baby! These two are hot.

I really liked this book. There are funny moments, sexy moments, incredibly intense moments. This book has two strong, likable main characters. Other fabulous mentionables: John and his handcuffs, the best dog EVER, two idiot bank robbers who have to have been based on Beevis and Butthead. Whenever there was a chapter devoted to the bank robbers on the run, I would end up in tears laughing. The dialogue between them was like listening to two of my junior high school students try to mastermind a bank heist. And the end of the chapters? Priceless. The dialogue and action would be going along and it would all end with a sentence like:

Then Bucky attacked. Then the cop car drove by. Then they fell in the swamp.

Two books with such similarities, yet so very different. If you were to pick between the two go with Hot. I'm not sure if I liked it as much as The Raven Prince (the only other book of hers I have read so far), but it is a fun romp. Definitely worth it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In the mean time

I am putting together a comparison review of two book that I recently read. I am just not finding the energy to complete it. I will finish and post it tonight or tomorrow. I swear!

In the mean time, I give you this image to enjoy. Could he join the BDB? Please!!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Book Club

I very much want to choose a classic for the book club, but I think I am going to wait one more month. I must check out the UBS and library to see what I can come up with. I would hate to pick a book that no one can get their hands on.

SO. In the mean time I have decided to go with a book that will one day be considered a classic. A book that is loved by many. A book that was recently used in a "Name That Book" post. A book everyone has said that must reread now. A book called...

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

So go pick up your copy and read with me. You know you want to. Just remember, though, Sam Donovan is in my hut. No stealing!

Deadline: July 15th (I know I am not giving you a month, but this one is not difficult to find... I don't think)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tag! You're it!

I was tagged for this book meme, so here I go. Turning to page 123. Finding sentence number 5...

"Well, even now, with the proper knife, I think I could hit that bird one time in ten, if I wished to eat finches, which I do not."

Huh. I'll be interested to see what is going on in the story when I reach that point. Any guesses as to what book it is from?

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to tag someone. How about this, if you have not been tagged and wish to join in on the fun...TAG!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The glasses of which I speak

OK, here are pics of the two pair of glasses I bought.

These are the "normal"ones

And these are the crazy, completely impractical ones

Wow, I need to put on more blush. I really am the palest girl ever!

Monday, June 23, 2008

See those glasses up above? The ones right up there in the header? Those are my glasses. Well, actually they were my glasses. They finally bit the big one. Gave up the ghost. Crashed and burned and fell apart. You see, a number of months ago I was doing an activity with my kindergartners. We were tossing a beach ball back and forth, singing up and down when the ball went up and down. Don't worry, it makes sense when you actually do it. Anyhow, one energetic child decided, instead of gently tossing the beach ball, to pitch it at me... directly at my face. It must have hot my glasses at just the right spot and the stem popped off. Ever since then I have been fighting a losing battle. I would super glue it back on, only to have the glue give out at the worst times. On Friday (after I had just told myself I would get them replaced at the end of summer if they would just hold out) I gave my dog a hug. POP! Off popped the stem. Again. For the last damn time. With so many layers of glue on the glasses there was no way I could repair them and have them continue to fit.

Today I got my eyes checked. Good thing! My prescription had changed enough to need new lenses in a big way. Thank goodness I am on summer vacation and had no where to be. I am what you would call an extremely indecisive person. I looked around for about an hour and got help from the guy working there before I found frames I liked. I found one that was super funky and fun. I found another that was fun, but a bit more "normal". What to do? The gentleman working there had determined from the very beginning that I was not allowed to purchase "boring glasses". He refused. (I quite liked him and he made fabulous suggestions.) Since he was dying for me to buy the super funky pair, he gave me a great deal on the frames. (Keep in mind this was not Lens Crafters, so not el cheapo glasses place.) Each pair came in a good bit under $200 including the lenses. He got me the super funky ones for almost $100 less than they should have been. Woo hoo!!! So I broke down and bought both. (Hey! I just received my economic stimulus check.) Now I have the choice of different glasses for different moods or outfits.

So what do I do about my blog header? Should I keep it the same, in memory of my old dilapidated frames? Should I design something new? Should I retake the photo with my new frames? Oy! Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Any suggestions?

Between the end of the school year hoo-ha and just general craziness, I realize that June is coming to an end and I have not chosen the next book club title. Not good, Shannon, not good! There are so many books out there that I have yet to read. So many genres to choose from. Every day there are new books being released. We are all clamoring to read those new books, but what about the old "classics"? I am feeling the itch to reach way back into someone's backlist and try out a classic romance novel for our next book club book. The only one popping into my mind at the moment is Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Puntey.

So what you you all think? Is there a classic that you have been dying to read (or one you've read and are itching to discuss with the rest of us?) Help a girl out! What are your classic romance recommendations?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

So what works for you?

Earlier this week I had the great opportunity to meet our good friend, and fellow DIK Chick, Ciara. While browsing the shelves of the ill fated used book store she posed a question to me that I will now pose to all of you:

What standard romance plot device really works for you?

Basically, when you are looking through the hundreds of books available to borrow or purchase, what plot point makes a book a "must have"? Are you a sucker of the tale of the pioneer woman abducted by the brave Indian warrior? Does the presence of a sheik who gives up his harem make your toes tingle? How about the fake engagement/wedding?

What plot device floats your boat every time?

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Title: Lawless
Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: Historical (Western) Romance


Half-Apache and all man, Jake Redman was more than a match for the wild Arizona Territory. Sarah Conway, on the other hand, was an Eastern lady who belonged anywhere else but on the rugged land Jake loved. Still, the stubborn beauty was determined to make Lone Bluff her home . . .
Though Jake was annoyed to find himself playing guardian angel to this tantalizing innocent, he was even more disgusted to find he liked it. Because beneath Sarah's ladylike demeanor beat the heart of a true pioneer, a women he yearned to make his own.

Nora Roberts wrote Western historicals? Really? Who knew? Not me, certainly. In my first "last visit" to my closing used book store I picked up such an oddity. Lawless is set in the Arizona Territory in 1875. The land and it’s people are still rough and unruly. Gold prospecting is the passion of both the law abiding and the lawless. Into this rough and tumble world walks Sarah Conway, the daughter of a local gold prospector. Left back East to be raised and educated as a lady, Sarah has decided that it is high time to join her father out west in the beautiful home he has created for them to share. Little did she realize, as she set out across the country, that her father had spun her letters full of hopes and dreams, based little in reality. It is only after narrowly escaping capture by a band of Apache that Sarah discovers the truth about her father’s home. Saddened and determined by his very recent death, Sarah vows to stay in Lone Bluff to create a life for herself where her father once lived.

Jake Redman is tough and aloof. A loner who lives by his wits and his guns. As he is returning to the town he most recently called home, he intercepts a traveling coach being set upon by a band of Indians. After delivering the passengers to safety, he feels compelled to ensure Sarah’s well being. After attempts to convince her to turn around and head back East have failed, he finds himself lingering in her vicinity (against his better judgement.) He is (of course) drawn to her.

At first I worried that Sarah was TSTL (too stupid to live.) She just kept doing the dumbest things. Then again, she is 17 years old and has lived a sheltered life. It was a relief to see the growth the character shows through the book. The clueless child at the beginning turns into a stubborn, determined woman. She makes sure to learn how to properly shoot a rifle... and actually practices. She hires on a local to help out and asks him to teach her how to do things for herself. She finds a viable way to support herself financially (although, it is a bit hard to believe she can sew quite that well.) By the end I really liked her. When she storms into the local brothel and confronts the madam.... woo hoo!
Jake is... a classic Nora Roberts hero. Deep, stoic, reluctant to love. He wants to be with the heroine, yet he wants to protect her from the life he leads. Jake would rather walk away, sacrificing his own wants and desires, than stay and see Sarah get hurt. Of course, she is having none of that self-sacrificing bulls**t. Doesn’t matter that she is only 17 years old (a child really). She knows what she wants.
When I started the book her age was an issue for me. Yup, I’m getting old. Historicals are becoming a problem for me. My heroines need at be at least 25 years old. I know what I was like prior to that. Thought I knew everything I wanted. Thought I was all grown up. Yeah. Not so much. (I know I am generalizing here by saying anyone under 25 does not have life figured out. This is my issue as a person and a reader. I know that.) Here’s the thing, the more I read the book the less I thought about her age. Eventually I forgot. Ms. Roberts is that good. Now, I won’t say that this is one of her best books, but as a friend of mine pointed out today, even her worst books are still good by comparison to other authors. You could tell this was an earlier work (1989), but it still contained all the hallmarks of a NR story: strong hero, heroine who takes no guff from him, mortal danger hovering over them both, and relationships (romantic, family, friends.)
If you are looking for a "classic", yet less popular Nora Roberts experience, this is the book to pick up. It is an interesting look at her early style, to see how she has grown and what she has retained.

Grade: B

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's cover wank time!!!

OK, I will admit it, I am a sucker for great cover art. The cover of a book is often what first grabs my attention. I may have even bought a book or two solely based on it's art. I am not proud, but it is the truth. This book was not one of them! Well, maybe it was. Not because I thought the cover was wonderful, but because I thought it looked so wonderfully bad. I have to see if the outside and inside match. Until then....


Oh noes...part 2!

I just returned home from a lovely day of sight seeing in Chicago with none other that Ciara! We bummed around downtown wandering through Millennium Park, the Harold Washington Library, and made a stop at Garrett's popcorn. Best popcorn EVER. mmmmm.

After stopping for lunch at the amazing Chicago Diner (vegetarian mecca of Chicago), we headed up to the fabulous Kate the Great's Used Books. Yes, I returned to the scene for my recent book buying crimes. Houston, we now have a problem. The TBR pile has hit critical mass. I HAVE to stop buying books!!! (As I told Ciara, it is a damn good thing I am not married and I live alone. I still have to figure out how to inform The Boy of my reading habits. I guess I have until August when he moves home...)

More damage was done, to the tune of:

1) The Right Choice by Carly Phillips (as Karen Drogin)

2) Blood Red by Heather Graham

3) The Seance by Heather Graham (I am on a HG buying spree)

4) The Black Rose by Christina Skye (It cost only $1.12 and I could not say no to the horribulous cover art. Oh, I feel some cover wank coming on!)

5) Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks

6) Sabriel by Garth Nix (I love this book. I just needed a copy for my own bookcase.)

7) Thigh High by Christina Dodd

8) The Blood Books, Vol. 1 (Blood Price & Blood Trail) by Tanya Huff

Someone needs to stop me!!! The worst part is that I now have the info about their other store location. It is out in the burbs, but they will purchase boxes of books for credit or cash. Sweet! I think I will be making a trip out there soon to unload some of these excess books I will never read. Leigh Greenwood? Goodbye!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh noes!!!

Last week I received a very distressing phone call: my new-to-me favorite used book store is closing. NO FAIR!!! I just found them! Finally, a used book store that would buy and sell romance novels. This is SO not cool. The owners are wonderful, though. They were calling to let me know that they are closing at the end of July and to remind me that I still had a $4 credit from my last visit when I sold them some books. How great is that? Oh, and everything is 50% off.

So, of course I had to head straight over. I really have zero self control.

Over an hour after walking through the doors I left victorious. I had spent my $4 credit. After adding an additional $12 to that total, I carried out 9 books. NINE BOOKS for only $12 out of my pocket. I feel horrid that they are closing, but.... dude! Mother load!!!

What did I pick up?

1) Lawless
An old/classical Nora Roberts historical. Historical? Yup. I just finished reading it. I'll probably put up a nutshell review soon.

2) Kiss of Darkness by Heather Graham
Dude, it is about vampires. How could I pass it up?

3) My Lord Conqueror by Samantha James
For some reason I felt that I had heard her name bandied about. I hope it was for a good reason. If not, it only cost me $1.50

4) Realm of Shadows by Shannon Drake
um... paranormal. Yes, I am an addict. I don't think I have read any of her books yet, so this should be a first.

5) The Awakening by L.A. Banks
Dude, the main character is a vampire huntress and a SPOKEN WORD ARTIST. Whuh??!?!!

6) A Taste of Crimson by Marjorie M. Liu
Another author whose name I have heard often.

7) The River Knows by Amanda Quick
I love her contemporaries as Jayne Ann Krentz. I am starting to lose my love for her historicals as Quick. I am hoping this one may change my opinion.

8) Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
As the author says, the story is basically what would happen if Brittney Spears lost it all (hahaha!) and ended up having to work as an assistant dorm director for and undergrad dorm. Oh. And there is the pesky business of a dead body in the dorms.

9) If I Pay Thee Not In Gold by Piers Anthony & Mercedes Lackey
OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!! I read this book YEARS ago when I was 16 years old, working in a book store. I told everyone how great it was. It has since gone out of print and I have been searching for it for the past 10 years. I think I let out a squeal in the store when I saw it on the shelf. ::happy dance::

So tomorrow I have a second visit planned. I am playing tour guide to one of our own. What better place to take her than my favorite Chicago used book store? They are already holding one book for me. I wonder what else I will find.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Watch out web, we are taking over!

The DIK Chicks are at it again! We were not content to simply make our lists of books and then battle it out over heroes. Oh no! We must now share the love with the blogosphere in the form of our very own DIK blog. That's right, my friends. It is all DIK, all the time.

What will you see there? Book reviews of our Desert Island Keepers books (the ones we chose and the ones our friends chose.) Justification for our harem of heroes. Author interviews and reviews. Silliness. And so much more.

So come check it out. See what the silly Chicks of the DIK are up to. Pull up a seat and a pina colada, and enjoy the entertainment.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wooo! and Hoooo!!!

School's out! School's out! The monkeys let the teachers out!!!

And it is about damn time! My poor blog has been getting no love. That will all change, my friends. Not just yet, but soon. I have a bunch of books to review and book related stories to share and book related visitors coming into town. Yay! For now, though, I am chillin out at my Alma Mater. As soon as school let out I skipped town. I headed south on Rt 57 and am at the good old University of Illinois. I'm here visiting my "friend who is a boy" ;) so I won't be around the blogosphere much. I'll be back soon!

Now I must get ready and head out to the airport. He is at this very moment flying an airplane. eek! I need to get my butt in gear and head out there so he can give me the grand tour. This could be considered research. A book with a hero that flies planes... interesting, vedy vedy interesting.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Reviews in a nutshell

I have yet to solve the "no Internet at home" problem. One one hand this is bad. I can't check email. I am unable to update this site. My main tool for procrastination is gone. On the other hand, this is a good thing. Grades are coming along nicely. I have read a TON. What have I been reading? Well, funny you should ask...

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Oh, how I love Ms. Quinn. I first became hooked on the Bridgerton/Whistledown series. Yes, some were better than others, but all provided me with a sweet HEA. Her new book is Ms Quinn back in top form. She gives us two strong, well developed main characters. Grace is smart, resilient, sees life and people as they truly are. She has no misgivings or idealizations (is that a word?) about her employer. The dowager Duchess is not nice. Not crotchety with a heart of gold. Nope, she is just mean and bitter. I like that Ms Quinn gives us someone real, and not just a fairy tale version. Jack is strong, smart, independent, loving, and does not want to be Duke. He has his reasons. They are reasons that actually make sense, not some convoluted over the top plot device. These characters are real, fun to get to know, and quite hot together. This is a great historical. Coming from someone who is usually bored with historicals, this is rather high praise.
The BDB compendium (J.R. Ward)
I have been catching up on my crack. Rhage haunted me for a while. Then Z stood against the bookshelf in my classroom brooding, staring at me darkly. Butch... well, Butch is sweet. He just didn't haunt me like the other Brothers. Then Vishious... oh, V! He is still here, all aglow as he disposes of the rubbish that has accumulated in my classroom with a quick sweep of his ungloved hand. Part of me is itching to run out and pick up Lover Enshrined. Another part wants to wait so as not to get burned out on the BDB. That is not something I want to have happen. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series so far. Even Butch's book, while not great, was still entertaining. The men, they are all so damaged. I want to heal them all! I now understand the pig head retaliation that was taking place in our DIK huts. I am quite glad I waited until after our island adventure to read these books. I would have been in all kinds of agony. If you have not read the BDB series, go do it! Just make sure you go in order or the series police will come and righ you up, true. So here is the breakdown:
Lover Eternal (Rhage's book): hauntingly good, like rich chocolate from Dagoba or Voges. So smoking hot that the sex grandma, Sue Jo, would give it 4 briquettes on the hibachi of love.
Lover Awakened (Z's book): angst, angst, and more angst. This boy really earns his HEA. Damn.
Lover Revealed (Butch's book): the weakest of the bunch so far. The heroine can be trying at times. I think all of the secondary plots make up for it. It is not the greatest, but I would never skip over it.
Lover Unbound (Vishous's book): ooooh! kinky sex! Yum! V and Jane are great. The HEA was... unconventional. I'm still mulling it over. Pretty good side plots. I just LOVE Vishous. The dynamic between him and Butch... makes me ponder the whole m/m genre. Never picked one up, but I do like me some Butch/V moments. The scene with V and the chickadee... weeped. This may have some of the hottest sex of the series. That would be 5 flaming briquettes on the hibachi!
I think I am getting sick of Phury and his "poor me, Bella loves my brother" routine. The drug use is getting annoying, too. I hope Ward wraps it up well in LE. I hear that we get a bunch of Rehv. And I want to see what the deal is between John and Xhex. And what is going to happen with Payne? Ms Ward better be writing quickly!
So that, in a nutshell, is what I have been reading. I am off to finish grades and then pick out my next reading selection. Hmmmm... what to read?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Please go away, I am too busy reading!

I am sitting here hooked up to an IV drip of Alpha men. Over the weekend I read the 3rd and 4th installments of the BDB crack, and am nearly finished with poor Vishous. I must get the new release! I hear there is lots of Rehv. Oh yeah!

Here's the thing. When I become engrossed in a book or a series I become rather reclusive. All I want to do is read. I want to immerse myself in the characters and their world 24/7. I want to experience it all, take it all in. And lord help you if you call me on the phone and expect me to talk to you. I AM BUSY!!! Can't you see that? (Oh wait, you aren't here. That is why you are calling.) Please don't bother me right now, I am busy trying to maneuver an unplanned moment between V and Butch.

I know that I get this way. You would think, after 31 years, that my mother would have picked up on this, too. Nope. Instead I get the voicemail saying, "Are you alright? Is there a reason you are not talking to me? What is wrong?" (Please keep in mind that only three days had passed since we last spoke.) How do I explain to her that I am being haunted by hot, angst-filled vampires? She does not read. She would never understand.

This bleeds into other parts of my life. Grocery shopping? That SO did not get done. Laundry? Let's just say that putting together outfits this week will be a challenge. House cleaning? Just don't walk too close to the dirty dishes. ew. I just can't help myself. What would you do given the choice between hand washing dishes (no dishwasher in my apartment) or reading about V and Jane? I rest my case.

So please. Go. Away. Yes, I'm talking to you. All 700 of you children that I am supposed to be teaching this week. Why are you still here? Why can't you leave me in peace with the Brotherhood? Oh. Yeah. That's right, we still have a week and a half of school left. Damn. Well, just sit in the corner and be quiet. Rhage and I have some canoodling to do.

Monday, June 2, 2008

One Hero to Rule Them All

I sure it comes as no surprise to anyone, but the winner of the Boys of Brockmann Battle Royale was.....

Sam Starrett!!!!

He seemed like such a jerk in the beginning, but oh how he changed. By the end of the most recent book he has emerged as a tough, sex, sweet, loyal, passionate, wonderful man/husband/lover/best friend. He didn't just change, he grew up. It happened so gradually (over the course of 12 books) that it was completely believable. Oh Sam, how we love thee!

So here endeth the Battle. A hero has been proclaimed and he shall rule forever as Brockmann's Best. (Unless, of course, she still has some new ideas up her sleeve)